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Ancient India History for Govt Job Exams

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Ancient India History for Govt Exams by tesTopper

Ancient India HistoryAncient India History covers a good number of questions making it an important topic to cover in SSC exams. Around 2-3 questions are asked from ancient india history which surely makes it important for you to study the topic well for SSC Exams such as CGL, CHSL, CPO, MTS, and Stenographer. Here we are providing complete notes on the Ancient history of India in Brief which you should not ignore. 

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Is ancient India History important for UPSC?

Ancient india history is an important part of the USPC civil services syllabus mainly the UPSC prelims exam. Every year at least 5 – 6 questions are asked from this section in the IAS prelims.

What do we study in ancient India history for Govt Exams?

Education and the curriculum comprised the study of ancient scriptures, law, medicine, astronomy, military science and the eighteen silpas or arts. Takshashila became famous as a place of learning due to its teachers’ expertise. Among its noted pupils were the legendary Indian grammarian, Panini.

Ancient India History is an important part of the USPC civil services syllabus mainly the UPSC prelims exam. Every year at least 5 – 6 questions are asked from this section in the IAS prelims. Many candidates tend to ignore this section in favour of modern History but let it be reiterated that 5 – 6 questions is indeed a lot in the larger scheme of things in the UPSC exam where you have to fight for every single mark. Moreover, History is the story of the past and whatever the world is seeing today is a continuation of things that were set in motion thousands of years ago! A good understanding of modern History mandates that ancient History is read with understanding. In this article, you will read about how to study ancient History for UPSC exam.

Along with ancient History, you should also focus heavily on art and culture as the UPSC is leaning on to this section in recent years.

For simplicity, ancient History can be subdivided into the following (ancient history syllabus for UPSC):

  • Prehistoric period
  • Indus Valley Civilization
  • Vedic Period
  • Empires and Kingdoms of Ancient India
  • Art forms (Dance, Music, Literature, architecture)
  • Religion/philosophy of Ancient India

How to Read Ancient History for UPSC?

For simplicity and a comprehensive understanding of the subject, we suggest the following methodology for you to cover the ancient history syllabus for IAS. Three readings are recommended.

Reading #1: A basic book like NCERT textbook or Tamil Nadu State Board XII textbook

In this reading, you should focus on understanding the chronology of events. The Tamil Nadu textbook is ideal in this regard as it doesn’t delve into details and analyses of things. Events are mentioned in chronological order, and it can be a good start for fresh students of ancient history. The NCERTs are equally good. They give you a bit more analysis and are considered must-reads for the IAS exam. Specific facts that you find in the NCERTs like names of officers, aliases of kings, etc. are essential from the UPSC Prelims exam point of view.

You can read NCERT notes on Ancient History here. These notes are crisp and compiled in a student-friendly manner.

Reading #2: Advanced textbooks

In the second reading, you should upgrade to a higher-level textbook. In this reading, you should read the topics with a keen eye for subtleties and understand not just what happened when, but why they happened and what were the effects of the events. You should start making notes at this stage.

Reading #3: Revision

The third reading is about revising what you have learnt previously. You should also try to solve previous years’ question papers and even some mock test papers.

Also See | UPSC Prelims Trend Analysis for History

Focus Areas in Ancient History

  • Special attention must be given to sources of information in ancient History and the analysis of various theories.
  • Art and culture subject is extremely important. You can get more tips on how to read art and culture for the IAS exam here.
  • Indus Valley Civilization/Harappan Civilization.
  • Buddhism and Jainism
  • Philosophy of ancient India (Vedas, Upanishads, six schools of philosophy/thought, Dharmashastras, Puranas)
  • Society (women, professions, caste, economic set-up)
  • Terms in Ancient History (Very Important for UPSC Prelims – Get important terms from this link)
  • Maurya and Gupta Ages

Sources to study Ancient History for UPSC

  • India’s Ancient Past – R.S. Sharma (Indias ancient past PDF)
  • Facets of Indian Culture – Spectrum
  • NCERT Class XI – An Introduction to Indian Art
  • NCERT Class XI – Living Craft Traditions of India (Chapters 9 & 10)
  • Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT) official Website
  • The Wonder That Was India – A.L. Basham (For religion and philosophy)
  • Ancient Indian History Class VI NCERT textbook
  • NCERT Class XII – History – Themes in Indian History Part I
  • Tamil Nadu State Board Class XI textbook
What do you study in ancient India history?

Ancient History contributes at least 4 – 5 questions in the UPSC Prelims. UPSC has been focussing on Art & Culture which is a part of Ancient History’s syllabus. Many aspirants ignore Ancient History and focus more on Modern History. This is a harmful strategy as you can fail to clear the cut-off marks for Prelims just by 1 mark! Ancient History can give you that edge. Also History is a continuous flow of events.

In order to better understand Modern History, we need to have clarity about Ancient History also. Here, we are going to discuss strategy for studying Ancient History for the UPSC Exam. 

Syllabus of Ancient History

It will comprise of the following topics:

  • Stone Age
  • Indus Valley Civilization
  • Early Vedic Age (1500-900 BCE)
  • Later Vedic Age (900 -600 BCE)
  • Mahajanapadas / Age of Buddha (600-300 BCE)
  • Mauryan Empire
  • Post Mauryan Age
  • Megaliths and Sangam Age
  • Guptan Age
  • Post Guptas
  • Pallavas & Chalukyas in South
  • Art forms like Dance, Music, Literature, architecture
  • Religion/philosophy of Ancient India

Books and other sources to study Ancient History for UPSC:

  • Old NCERT Class 11 
  • NCERT Class XII -Themes in Indian History Part 1Textbook
  • Tamil Nadu History book Class 11 Textbook
  • NCERT Class XI – An Introduction to Indian Art
  • NCERT Class XI – Living Craft Traditions of India
  • Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT) official Website

How to study Ancient History:

  1. Reading basic books: Start by reading NCERTs and Tamil Nadu History textbooks. Try to understand the chronology and analysis of events. Learn the facts about names of officers, professionals, revenue systems, etc. which are frequently asked in the UPSC Prelims.
  2. Reading advanced books: In this stage look for the causes and consequences of the historical events. Make notes of important takeaways..
  3. Solving previous years’ question papers: Solve questions of Ancient history from previous years’ UPSC Prelims papers and mock tests.
Are NCERT books enough for studying Ancient India?

NCERT books are an essential part of UPSC exam preparation. However, because of the comprehensive UPSC syllabus, IAS aspirants should also refer to subject-specific books (for e.g. Indian Polity by Laxmikanth) and keep tabs on the current affairs of at least the past 12-15 months.